Windows Server 2012 & R2 Features And Specifications: A First Look

Microsoft Windows Server 2012 is the 6th edition of the Windows Server operating system, which is part of the Windows NT family. It is a Windows server version based on Windows 8 that succeeds Windows 8. Windows Server 2008 R2, which is based on the codebase of Windows 7, was launched nearly three years ago. During development, two pre-release versions were released: a developer preview and a beta version. The software was released on September 4, 2012, two months before Windows 8 was released. On October 18, 2013, a successor, Windows Server 2012 & R2, was introduced. On October 9, 2018, Microsoft ended mainstream support for Windows Server 2012, with extended support ending on October 10, 2023.

Windows Server 2012

About Windows Server 2012

Windows Server 2012, unlike its predecessor, does not support Itanium-based PCs and comes in four variants. Over Windows Server 2008 R2, a number of features were introduced or improved, including an upgraded version of Hyper-V, an IP address management role, a new version of Windows Task Manager, and ReFS, a new file system (many of which focused on cloud computing). Despite having the same controversial Metro-based user interface like Windows 8, which features the Charms Bar for easy access to settings in the desktop environment, Windows Server 2012 garnered generally positive reviews.

About Windows Server 2012 R2

Windows Server 2012 R2, often known as “Windows Server 8.1,” is the 7th edition of Microsoft’s Windows Server operating system, which is part of the Windows NT family. It was revealed at TechEd North America on June 3, 2013, On October 18 of the same year, it was launched. It is the successor to the original Windows Server 2012 and the first server operating system based on Windows 8.1 to get official Microsoft support.

In April 2014, a new update, formally known as Windows Server 2012 R2 Update, was published. It consists of a collection of security, critical, and other upgrades. Windows Server 2012 R2 is based on Windows 8.1 and is only compatible with x86-64 processors (64-bit).

The successor to Windows Server 2012 R2 is Windows Server 2016, which is based on the Windows 10 codebase.

Editions of Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2 are:

Four editions of Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2 are:

  • Windows 2012 Foundation edition
  • Windows 2012 Essentials edition
  • Windows 2012 Standard edition
  • Windows 2012 Datacenter edition

Windows Server 2012 feature areas

Installation options

Unlike its predecessor, Windows Server 2012 allows users to switch between “Server Core” and “Server with a GUI” installation options without having to rebuild the operating system entirely. Server Core is now the recommended configuration, as it just has a command-line interface. A third installation option allows some GUI features, such as MMC and Server Manager, to run, but not the standard desktop, shell, or default apps, such as File Explorer.

User interface

The user interface for Server Manager has been modified to make managing many servers easier. Unless installed in Server Core mode, the operating system, like Windows 8, employs the Metro-based user interface. This version of Windows includes the Windows Store, but it is not installed by default. There are around 2300 commandlets in this version of Windows PowerShell, compared to around 200 in Windows Server 2008 R2.

Task Manager

Along with the existing version of Windows Task Manager, Windows Server 2012 contains a new version. The tabs are hidden by default in the latest version, leaving only the applications visible. The processes are presented in varied hues of yellow on the new Processes tab, with darker shades indicating more resource usage. The information from previous versions has been relocated to the new Details tab. The graphs for “CPU,” “Memory,” “Disk,” “Wi-Fi,” and “Ethernet” can be seen on the Performance tab. The “Disk” activity graph is not activated by default in Task Manager, unlike the Windows 8 version (which appears similar). Individual graphs for each logical processor on the system are no longer displayed by default on the CPU tab, however, this is still an option. It can also show data for each NUMA node (non-uniform memory access).

The CPU tab now provides basic usage percentages on heat-mapping tiles when displaying data for each logical processor for devices with more than 64 logical processors. Blue is the dominating color in these heat maps, with darker tints suggesting higher usage. Hovering the cursor over any logical processor’s data now displays the processor’s NUMA node and, if relevant, its ID. A new Startup page has also been created, which shows startup applications. This tab does not exist on Windows Server 2012. When a Windows Store program is “Suspended,” the new task manager recognizes this.

IP address management (IPAM)

The IP address management role in Windows Server 2012 is used to discover, monitor, audit, and manage the IP address space on a corporate network. Domain Name System (DNS) and Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) servers are managed and monitored using IPAM. IPv4 and IPv6 are both supported completely full.

Active Directory

Active Directory in Windows Server 2012 improves from the version that’s included in Windows Server 2008 R2. The Active Directory Domain Services installation wizard has been replaced with a new component in Server Manager, and the Active Directory Recycle Bin now includes a graphical user interface. In the same domain, multiple password policies can be set. Virtualized domain controllers can now be safely cloned since Active Directory in Windows Server 2012 is aware of any modifications caused by virtualization. Upgrades to Windows Server 2012 at the domain functional level are simpler; they can be completed entirely in Server Manager. When implemented as a role, Active Directory Federation Services is no longer required to be downloaded, and claims that can be used by Active Directory Federation Services have been added to the Kerberos token. The commands used by Active Directory Administrative Center in Windows can be viewed in a “Powershell History Viewer”.


According to the Microsoft BUILD event, Windows Server 2012, along with Windows 8, has a new version of Hyper-V. Network virtualization, multi-tenancy, storage resource pools, cross-premises connectivity, and cloud backup are just a few of the new features added to Hyper-V. Furthermore, many of the previous constraints on resource consumption have been significantly eased. In this version of Hyper-V, each virtual machine can have up to 64 virtual processors, 1 terabyte of memory, and 64 terabytes of virtual storage capacity per virtual hard disk (using a new .vhdx format). Per host, up to 1024 virtual machines can be active, and per failover cluster, up to 8000 virtual machines can be active. SLAT is a necessary processor feature for Hyper-V on Windows 8, although it is only required for the additional RemoteFX function on Windows Server 2012.

ReFS (Resilient File System)

Resilient File System (ReFS), codenamed “Protogon,” is a new file system in Windows Server 2012 that improves on NTFS in numerous ways. It was originally intended for file servers. The following are some of the ReFS’ most interesting new features:

  • Improved reliability for on-disk structures
  • Built-in resilience
  • Compatibility with existing APIs and technologies

IIS 8.0

Internet Information Services version 8.0 is included with Windows Server 2012. (IIS). SNI, CPU utilization caps for certain websites, centralized management of SSL certificates, WebSocket compatibility, and better NUMA support are among the new features in the latest version, although there are a few other notable changes.

Remote Desktop Protocol 8.0

Adaptive Graphics (progressive rendering and related techniques), automated selection of TCP or UDP as transport protocol, multi-touch support, DirectX 11 support for vGPU, USB redirection support independent of vGPU support, and other features have been added to the Remote Desktop Protocol. For RDP 8.0 connections, a “connection quality” button appears in the RDP client connection bar; clicking it displays additional information about the connection, including whether UDP is used or not.


The following maximum hardware parameters are supported by Windows Server 2012. Windows Server 2012 improves on Windows Server 2008 R2 in the following ways:

  1. Specifications for the system
  2. Processor 1.4 GHz, x64
  3. Memory 512 MB is the minimum system requirement for Windows Server 2012.
  4. 32 GB of free storage space (more if there is at least 16 GB of RAM)
  5. Itanium is not supported by Windows Server 2012, and it only operates on x64 processors.
  6. Upgrades from Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 are supported, but not from earlier versions.
Windows Server 2012 Specifications

Windows Server 2012 R2 feature areas

The Following are the Features of Windows 2012 Server R2

  • Automated tapering: Storage Spaces keeps the most frequently visited files on the fastest physical media available.
  • VHD deduplication: Saves storage space by storing similar contents just once for VHD files with mainly similar contents.
  • Windows PowerShell v4 now has a DSC (Desired State Configuration) feature.
  • Support for Office 365 integrated (Essentials Edition)
  • The user interface has been updated to reflect Windows 8.1, including the addition of a visible Start button.
  • Virtual machines based on UEFI
  • Moves away from driver emulators and toward synthetic hardware drivers to reduce legacy support.
  • Increased VM deployment speed (approximately half the time)
  • Internet Information Services 8.5: Logging to Event Tracing for Windows is now supported, as well as the ability to log any request/response headers. If IIS is set with 100 or more websites, it will not immediately start any of them by default to improve scalability. In addition, application pools now have a new “Idle Worker Process Page-Out” configuration option that instructs Windows to page out the process if it has been idle for the idle time-out period (by default, 20 minutes).
  • A Server Message Block: Improved performance and event recording, Hyper-V Live Migration over SMB support, bandwidth prioritization management, and the ability to eliminate SMB 1.0 support
  • Windows Deployment Services: PowerShell support for managing WDS.
  • A Server Core installation includes Windows Defender, which is installed and enabled by default.
  • IP Address Management (IPAM): Support for role-based access control has been added, providing for finer control over which users can see or update DHCP reservations, scopes, IP address blocks, DNS resource records, and other parameters. IPAM can also be used in conjunction with System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 R2 to create a unified IP policy that applies to both real and virtual environments. Instead of using the Windows Internal Database, the IPAM database can be kept in a SQL Server instance.
  • A new “Policy Cache” setting in Group Policy allows domain-joined workstations to save a copy of the group policy settings on the client system and use those at startup time instead of waiting for the policy settings to download, depending on the speed of access to the domain controller.
  • This can help computers that aren’t connected to the workplace network start up faster. In option New Group Policy was introduced to cover new capabilities in Windows 8.1 and Internet Explorer 11, such as enabling/disabling SPDY/3 support, adjusting start screen layouts, and identifying phone numbers in web pages, among other things.
  • TLS is now supported by RFC 5077, “Transport Layer Security (TLS) Session Resumption without Server-Side State,” which enhances the speed of long-running TLS-secured connections that need to rejoin due to session expiration.
  • The Essentials edition now includes the Hyper-V role and Hyper-V management console.
  • The Essentials edition of Windows Server 2012 R2 now includes Windows Server Update Services.
  • ReFS now supports alternate data streams and automatic parity space error correction.

Security Updates for an Extended Timeframe

Microsoft Extended Security Updates for SQL Server 2012, Windows Server 2012, and Windows Server 2012 R2 will be distributed for a maximum of three years after the end of Extended Support, according to a July 2021 announcement.

Support is coming to an End

Microsoft initially planned to cease support for Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2 on January 10, 2023, however, in March 2017, Microsoft extended support for Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 by 9 months in order to offer customers the usual transition lifecycle timetable. Windows Server 2012 Extended Support will terminate on October 10, 2023, with no defined end date

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